Xxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx at
Fri Mar 9 10:51:19 MST 2001

by Richard Lee (Fernand Braudel Center)

***SOCIOLOGY:   term invented by Auguste Comte in his Cours de philosophie
positive (1830-1842). But however much he may have wanted to develop a
science of society, this first systematic expression culminated in a
philosophy of history. His dictum of Savoir pour prévoir pour pouvoir, on
the other hand, indicates one of the long held legitimating arguments of the
discipline, that of dealing with social problems through informed reform and
points to the primary subject-matter:  'the poor', the outcasts, the humble,
the insulted and injured, the criminals of modern societies. These were the
objects of the most important pieces of empirical research of the nineteenth
and early twentieth centuries ... the peripheral sectors of society had
become accepted as meriting careful study; that careful study fell to the
lot of sociologists (Shils, 1985, 800).

In general, nineteenth-century social analysis was to retain an evolutionist
and positivist orientation--including Spencer and in a different way, Marx.
The first half of the century saw major state-sponsored surveys undertaken
in France but the general failure of the 1848 labor study "led to a breach
between socialism and empirical social research" and no further steps were
taken in this direction until almost the end of the century (Lécuyer and
Oberschall, 1968, 48). Private research took the form of direct observation
and monographic method while the state did either statistical surveys or
small-scale studies of limited problems. In Britain, social research was
primarily in the hands of individuals or voluntary associations but in
Germany academic scholars and professional organizations were active.

After mid-century, the major theme of industrial capitalism was joined by a
de rigueur encounter with socialism/Marxism. In 1845, Friedrich Engels
published The Condition of the Working Classes in England in 1844, and (with
Karl Marx) the Communist Manifesto in 1848. Earlier work had been
concentrated on the problems of structure and development of Western
industrial capitalism but as sociological approaches developed and
differentiated, they did so in relation, and opposition, to Marxist
thought--Weber, Durkheim, Pareto, Mosca. In the United States, however,
Ward, Ross, Small, and Veblen,(10) "to some extent influenced by Marxist
ideas, reasserted the association of the discipline with social reform
movements and advocated increased state intervention" (Bottomore, 1993,

The world's first journal of sociology, the Revue internationale de
sociologie, edited by René Worms, appeared in Paris in 1893. The first
sociological society, the Institut International de Sociologie, met for the
first time in 1894 and brought out its Annales de l'Institut International
de Sociologie (again edited by Worms) in 1895. Émile Durkheim established
the authoritative
L'Année sociologique in 1898. He had lectured at Bordeaux since 1887 and
took a post as professor of education in Paris in 1902, but did not become
professor of sociology there until 1913.

The Sociological Society of London was formed in 1903 but no national
association existed until 1951 when the British Sociological Association was
founded. Neither of the journals associated with the two, Sociological
Review and The British Journal of Sociology attained the influence of the
more specialized journals such as Population Studies. In England social
anthropology ("comparative sociology" according to Radcliffe-Brown) achieved
institutionalization but sociology had to wait until 1907 when the London
School of Economics created a chair; although as Perry Anderson wrote,
"Britain--alone of major Western societies--never produced a classical
sociology ... a synthetic social science ... or a national Marxism" (1968,

In Germany, where major figures such as Marx, Tönnies, Simmel, Weber,
Mannheim, had tenuous university affiliations at best,  [t]he historical
school of economics which rejected the views of the British political
economists, contributed most to social research and to the gradual emergence
of sociology as a distinct discipline. ... In the 1860s and 1870s, as a
result of Quetelet's influence, moral statistics and demography became
important areas of research in  Germany (Lécuyer and Oberschall, 1968, 48).

The major journal up to 1930 was Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und
Sozialpolitik (as an outgrowth of Archivs für Soziale Gesetzgebung und
Statistik) which Max Weber founded with Werner Sombart in 1903 and edited
for a time; with Simmel and Tönnies, Weber formed the Deutsche Gesellschaft
für Soziologie in 1908. There was no chair of sociology in any university
until after 1918 when one was created at the University of
Frankfurt-am-Main--after which sociologists were as likely to hold chairs in
political economy or philosophy as in sociology. The teaching of sociology
was abolished during the National Socialist period.

Although the Rivista di sociologia appeared in Italy in 1897 and the subject
was taught at the university level, there were no designated

In Japan, an American philosopher offered a course in sociology based on
Spencer in 1878 and a chair was established in 1893 at Tokyo Imperial
University. The Shakai-Gaku (Sociological Society) was formed in 1924; its
two journals were merged after 1945 to form Sociological Research.

Sociology was first taught in India in 1917 at Calcutta University and a
department was established in Bombay in 1919 where the Sociological Bulletin
first appeared in 1952.

The first so-named course in the United States was given at Yale in 1876 by
William Graham Sumner; the first department (with work leading to a
doctorate) was established in 1893 under Albion Small at the University of
Chicago in the wake of the "debate over the character of economics" (Manicas
in Wagner, et al., 1991, 63); here also was founded the American Journal of
Sociology in 1895.

With the rapid expansion of the universities, beginning in 1897, there
undoubtedly was less pressure on university administrations to restrict
professorships to established disciplines and on professors to compete for
students. ... There is abundant evidence that the separation of
administration from direct faculty control in the American  university has
facilitated the introduction of new subject matter, including sociology
(Reiss, 1968, 13).

The American Sociological Society (later the American Sociological
Association) with the American Journal of Sociology as official journal was
formed in 1905 by members of the American Historical, Economic and Political
Science associations dissatisfied with the opportunities offered them
through their respective organizations. In 1935 the American Sociological
Society severed its links to the powerful Chicago Department of Sociology
and founded The American Sociological Review. The publication in 1937 of
Talcott Parsons's The Structure of Social Action firmly welded American
sociology to the European tradition and provided the theoretical
underpinnings of the strongly quantitative (survey analysis)
structural-functionalism which in practice de-emphasized social change and
conflict. The work of Parsons was continued and propagated by a group of
Harvard students which insured that this perspective permeated the most
prestigious campuses.(12)

The twentieth-century professional legitimacy of sociology depended in large
measure on its acceptance by logical positivists as "science" capable of
determining laws leading to predictions. The logical positivist's
acceptance, via the doctrine of the Unity of Science and the behavioral
link, projected American social science--empirical and quantitative--onto
the world stage as a
dominant actor: "To be," said Quine, "is to be the value of a variable."
This was the language of Paul Lazarsfeld as well. In the post-1945 period,
in collaboration with Robert K. Merton, his Bureau of Applied Social
Research at Columbia University established a positivist social science
based on survey research and statistical methods--and
structural-functionalist theory--which became a model for the world.
Sociologists attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to have sociology included in
the original legislation establishing the National Science Foundation. In
1968, at last, the social sciences were added to a list of fields the
Foundation was directed to support, and a separate directorate for social
science was finally created in 1991.

Modernization theory represented the still-born effort (brought on by the
cold war and the hegemonic imperative of decolonization) of Western social
science to come to grips with a world which included the non-Western and
non-rich by simply extending--universalizing--first-world experiences and
analytic viewpoints. It both expressed a real concern for development and
harbored a political component as an antidote to (control) the appeal of
communism in the third world. And a Soviet version mirrored its Western
counterpart. Theorists posited contemporary Western/Soviet society as an end
point towards which the third world was "developing." In so doing it would
achieve both the same economic successes (industrialization) and similar
political organization (democracy/socialism). The comparative perspective
which defined societies as countries and cast them as independent "cases"
for analysis glossed over conflicts of interest and any larger system of

The value-neutrality connection between positive science and American/world
social science came under attack in the 1960's when   a great transformation
took place. International conflicts, and especially the Vietnam war, the
emergence of new social movements, the growth of dissent and opposition in
Western countries and in Eastern Europe, the widening gap between rich and
poor nations, provoked a radical reorientation of social thought. Social
change and conflict,  instead of social integration and the regulation of
social life by shared norms or a presumed 'common value system', now became
central issues of analysis (Bottomore,  1993, 635).

Under the auspices of UNESCO the International Sociological Association was
constituted in 1949. Although the United States continued to have the
largest concentration of sociologists, when "two thousand sociologists
assembled in 1966 at the Sixth World Congress of Sociology of the
International Sociological Association ... no country account[ed] for more
than one-tenth of those in attendance" (Reiss, 1968, 17). But then travel
was still rather expensive for U.S. sociologists, many of whom, in any case,
had little regard for non-U.S. sociology.

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
Ph.D Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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